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Whenever a fictional character has to climb without a rope or the likes he is bound to slip or grab a ledge that breaks off so he will be hanging on one hand. The character will then inevitably look down, take a deep breath and resume climbing. Bonus points if the climber is under attack or has to hurry.

If this occurs in visual media, the camera will follow the falling rocks on their downward path, showing just how far the character would fall.

Related to Plummet Perspective. Contrast Literal Cliff Hanger, which is about the hanging in general, while this is about the slipping.

Examples of Climb, Slip, Hang, Climb include:


  • One Marine commercial shows a man climbing the side of a mountain, as symbolism of conquering challenges to be the best of the best, and at one point, one of his hands slips, and he hangs for a second before regaining his grip and finishing the climb.

Anime and Manga

Comic Books

  • In an example of Tropes Are Not Cliches, this was used as a central metaphor in the classic Elektra story from Daredevil, where the monastery of the heroic ninjas is atop a forbidding cliff that only the spiritually pure can climb. Unsurprisingly, Elektra can't quite climb it due to her serious anger issues, and her literal fall foreshadows her later metaphorical fall.
    • Also inverted after Daredevil manages to spiritually purify her, and she's shown having reached the top without any apparent trouble in the final panels of the story.
  • Ordinarily this never happens to Spider-Man for obvious reasons, but it does turn up in stories where he loses one or more of his powers and has to fake it.

Film -- Animated

Film -- Live Action

  • This happens in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Kirk is rock climbing, and the trope happens as described. Spock shows up and casually chats Kirk up because Spock is wearing anti gravity boots.
  • Mission: Impossible 2: Happens to Ethan Hunt whilst on holiday free soloing - rock climbing without ropes - in Utah.
    • Mission: Impossible 4: Then happens to Ethan Hunt while climbing the Burj Khalifa with adhesive gloves, one of which fails.
  • This happens in the Lord of the Rings movies when Frodo and Sam are following Gollum to Shelob's lair.
  • This, one of the posters for the Sylvester Stallone film Cliffhanger.


  • In Dragons of Autumn Twilight, this happens to Goldmoon, who's terribly afraid of heights, when she needs to climb down a vine-encrusted cliff.
  • A Clash of Kings, the second book of A Song of Ice and Fire, has this happening to Jon, in one of his chapters.

Live Action TV

  • Sheppard does this in the Stargate Atlantis episode "Quarantine", while he's climbing the exterior of one of Atlantis's towers, trying to get to the control center to lift the quarantine.
  • Used in the Dollhouse episode "The Target."
  • Happens to Gao Black in episode 4 of Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger.

Video Games

Western Animation

  • The Simpsons: Homer does it as he climbs to the top of what he hopes to be the worlds tallest human pyramid.
  • Repeatedly happens in various episodes of Inspector Gadget, most notably in the opening sequence of "The Coo-Coo Clock Caper."
  • The Ellipse-Nelvana animated version of Tintin in America added this to a scene that had averted it in the book.